When it comes to health issues surrounding menstrual cycles, it’s common for those struggling to just suffer in silence. However, it’s important to open up the conversation around menstrual cycles and the warning signs of potential health problems in order to ensure those suffering can access the help and support they need. In this post, we’ll cover 5 of the most common menstrual issues and the potential treatments that can help alleviate their symptoms.
Dysmenorrhea, commonly known as painful menstruation, is a prevalent condition affecting a significant number of menstruating individuals worldwide. If you have dysmenorrhea, your signs might include sever and often debilitating cramps radiating across your lower abdomen, back, and thighs. Pain can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and fatigue, significantly impacting daily activities and quality of life. Treatment often involves pain relievers, hormonal contraceptives, lifestyle changes, and addressing underlying health issues. Although prescribed medication might be necessary, you can try a range of at-home treatments to help relieve symptoms. For example, heat can be applied in warm baths or hot water bottles to relieve pain. You could also try CBD products such as oils, teas, or CBD tampons to help with pain and boost relaxation.
Missing periods, or amenorrhea, can be alarming and is caused by various factors. Primary amenorrhea is when menstruation hasn’t begun by age 15, while secondary amenorrhea occurs when periods stop for three months or more. Common causes include significant weight changes, excessive exercise, and stress, which can disrupt hormonal balance. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid disorders are also frequent culprits. Menopause or pregnancy naturally leads to ceased menstruation, while certain medications, like contraceptives, can also affect your menstrual cycle.
Endometriosis is a chronic condition where tissue resembling the uterine lining grows outside the uterus, often on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and pelvic lining. This misplaced tissue responds to menstrual cycle hormones, leading to painful periods, chronic pelvic pain, and fertility issues. Symptoms can include severe menstrual cramps, painful intercourse, bowel and urinary disorders, and heavy bleeding during your period. The exact cause of endometriosis remains unclear, but factors like menstrual flow issues, hormonal imbalances, and genetics may play roles. Diagnosis often involves pelvic exams, ultrasounds, or laparoscopy. Treatments range from pain management and hormone therapy to surgery in severe cases.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age, characterised by enlarged ovaries containing numerous small cysts. If you have PCOS, you might experience irregular menstrual cycles, excess androgen levels leading to hirsutism and acne, and insulin resistance, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Women with PCOS may experience difficulty conceiving due to ovulatory dysfunction. Treatment focuses on managing symptoms, including lifestyle changes, weight loss, and medications like hormonal birth control and metformin.
Poor Mental Health
Menstrual cycles can significantly impact mental health, a phenomenon often under-discussed. During these cycles, you might experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which can severely affect mood and mental well-being. Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle are primarily responsible for these changes. Symptoms may include anxiety, depression, irritability, and mood swings, often intensifying in the luteal phase, just before menstruation begins.
Whichever of these menstrual issues you believe you might be suffering with, it’s always extremely important to seek advice from your GP or a medical specialist in order to develop a diagnosis, get the right medication, and establish support for your condition.